Saturday, July 9, 2016

Dilemma: Does the Dog Stay or Go?

I'm doing my final edits on my fifth novella in the Eastern Sierra Brides 1884 series titled Bridgeport Holiday Brides. Compared to the other books in the series it came out W-A-Y long--almost novel length. I've cut it by about 200+ words, but I'm now faced with a dilemma.

Does the dog stay or go?

 When the series started, I intended for Joshua Conner to end up with a dog. Part of the local issues in Lundy were that the men who came to work in the mines all seemed to bring a dog with them. When they departed Lundy, many left their dogs behind. The scavenging dogs roaming the streets became a public nuisance. It only made sense that a partially disabled teenage boy on his own after the death of his father would adopt one of the strays.

When Beth returns to Lundy to ask Josh if he wants to come to work on her homestead as a farm hand, she is put off by the idea when she meets Buddy, the mongrel Josh claimed as his own in the weeks after she moved. She is afraid the dog will get into her chickens and go after both the birds and their eggs. Josh argues Buddy will be a good watchdog who will guard both the house and the chickens. He assures her he will see Buddy does not bother the chickens.

My original intent for this book was to have a scene where Buddy did prove his worth as a watchdog. I changed the ending and that scene did not get written. Besides, it belongs better in another book in this series (if I decide to write it).

So, does the dog stay or go? Besides the scene introducing Buddy, the only other mention in the book is at a wedding and the men have to lock him up in the bunkhouse to keep him away from the food tables.

Pluses for Buddy the dog staying:
  • He's a cute, lovable dog and loyal to Josh.
  • Adopting a dog is something a teenage boy with no family close by or many friends would do.
  • If I do write Book 3.5 in this series, he will play a minor role in that book. But, readers of the series don't know that yet since the book has not been written or published.
  • Did I mention he's lovable and loyal?
Negatives for Buddy the dog staying: 
  • His presence does not move the plot forward.
  • The book already is quite long for a novella.
  • Since he does not contribute to the overall plot, at the conclusion readers might consider him a loose end and wonder "What about Buddy?"
What do you think? Should Buddy stay, or does he need to be edited out? Leave your two cents, but do it soon, please. I need to get this manuscript submitted.

In the meantime, the fourth book in the EASTERN SIERRA BRIDES 1884 is scheduled to be released within the next few weeks. I hope you are enjoying this series so far. CLICK HERE for the link to my Amazon author page.


  1. Keep him and add a bit about him throughout. You are correct that an orphan would want something to anchor him. (My two cents) Doris

  2. How does Buddy's presence change/stabilize Josh? If you take away the dog, presumably the good Buddy did for the boy would be undone. I think the dog should stay, and really, after the promise that Buddy won't harm the chickens, you only have to note that the dog didn't get into the chickens. Just my thoughts.


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